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The Courage to Teach in Afghanistan

Though schools are open, death threats persist.

by Sally Armstrong  

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Transition to Teaching 2006: The best and worst of times

by Frank McIntyre and Brian Jamieson  

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Transition to Teaching 2006: Help for new teachers slow in coming

by Frank McIntyre and Brian Jamieson  

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Living the Standards

by Lois Browne  

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Vimy Revisited

Port Perry teacher Dave Robinson co-ordinates teachers and more than 3,600 students on this trip to the historic ridge.

by Leanne Miller  

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Transition to Teaching 2006

Help for new teachers slow in coming

by Frank McIntyre and Brian Jamieson

On-the-job support for new teachers is dragging.

The College's 2006 Transition to Teaching study shows that newly certified teachers working full-time in English or French public boards receive little support.

And those are the fortunate few.

Teachers in other systems and in occasional roles – where most nw teachers start their careers these days – are unlikely to find any formal support.

The province's New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP), piloted in 2005, made funding available to boards that were providing help to new hires. But, despite provincial direction and funding, teachers perceive Ontario's school boards to be not as welcoming as they would like.

Only half – 52 per cent – of the new teachers who found regular jobs last year said they received any support in their first year. And only 20 per cent of those in occasional teaching roles said they received on-site professional assistance.


Jana Niemi Lahnalampi (left) teaches geography and English to Grades 9 and 10. She is one of the fortunate minority who has the advantage of a mentor, Laura Schmitt, at Lively District Secondary School in the Rainbow DSB.

All Ontario boards must implement an induction program this year, the government says.

Results from the 2006 Transition to Teaching study show that:

  • Forty-nine per cent – less than half of newly hired teachers – took part in a board orientation program – and 47 per cent of those said they found it lacking.
  • Thirty-one per cent – almost a third – said they didn't get essential information on attendance reporting, report cards, parent-teacher meetings and administrative routines.
  • Sixty-one per cent said they had an experienced teacher mentor – but more than half of those who did said it was a negative experience.
  • Sixty-four per cent didn't have the chance to observe another teacher.
  • Sixty-three per cent said they weren't observed teaching and didn't receive feedback on their teaching practices.

The inconsistent support offered to Ontario's newest teachers is magnified by the fact that 59 per cent of them are hired after school begins in September.

Seventy-eight per cent said they had professional development help in managing classrooms, receiving feedback through observation or learning strategies for communication with parents, or in teaching Special Education students, those at risk or second-language learners. Surprisingly, one in five report no support in any of these areas.

Another 18 per cent said their school principal hadn't formally evaluated their teaching by the time they answered the survey in May and June.

Location, location, occasional

Where new graduates work and their employment status are significant factors in the kind and amount of support they receive.

Two thirds of the first-year teachers in English public school boards reported receiving new induction support, as did 54 per cent of first-year teachers in French public school boards. In contrast, this support was available to only a minority of new teachers in English Catholic (38 per cent) and French Catholic (27 per cent) boards or in independent or private schools (13 per cent).

Most graduates today begin their careers as occasional teachers. Thirty-five per cent of 2005 graduates began as daily occasional teachers, while 29 per cent had long-term occasional contracts. And support to these new teachers is less likely.


University of Glasgow graduate Andrea Snowdon found a job and her own Grade 3 classroom at Larkspur Public School in Brampton.

Only 20 per cent of those on long-term occasional contracts participated in new teacher induction programs, while just two per cent of daily occasional teachers enjoy any form of new teacher induction support.

They are much less likely to receive any formal feedback in their first year. One in three long-term occasional contract holders and just one in eight of the daily occasional teachers underwent a formal evaluation from any of the principals in whose schools they taught.

The most that occasional teachers can hope for, it seems, is some first-year professional development help in classroom management. Thirty-nine per cent of those on long-term occasional contracts said they had help in that area. About one third said they had informal help – a mentor, a chance to observe other teachers or to have other teachers watch them.

Wide variations in support

Occasional teacher professional development support

  Long Term Daily
Classroom management 39% 27%
Strategies for Special Education students 19% 17%
Strategies for students at risk 20% 8%
Strategies for second language learners 4% 14%
Parent communication skills 17% 7%
None of the above 38% 59%

Professional development support for regular teachers in first year

Classroom management 55%
Feedback on observed teaching 46%
Strategies for Special Education students 35%
Strategies for students at risk 32%
Strategies for second language learners 27%
Parent communication skills 15%
None of the above 22%

Teachers reporting participation in new teacher induction by system

English public school boards 66%
English Catholic school boards 38%
French public school boards 54%
French Catholic school boards 27%
Independent or private schools 13%

Teachers reporting participation in new teacher induction by region

Greater Toronto Area 49%
Central Ontario 46%
Eastern Ontario 48%
Southwestern Ontario 65%
Northern Ontario 42%